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Psycho: Who’s That Woman Buried Out In Greenlawn Cemetary?

Monday 4 – Saturday 9 December, 2006
Venue: The House
Time: 8pm

Released in 1960, and now widely regarded as a masterpiece, Psycho has had a profound influence, not just on cinema, but on the late-20th Century psyche.

Modern obsessions with serial killers, gender ambiguity, graphic violence and the isolation and menace of post-modern spaces likes motels and motorways can all be traced back to this remarkable film. It was a bold experiment. Its creator, Alfred Hitchcock, was at that time the foremost director in Hollywood, commanding huge budgets and big stars, but he chose to film it in black and white, with a small crew and only one star (and she gets killed halfway through!).

As many directors have done subsequently, he reduced his material resources in order to have a premium of directorial control and the opportunity to explore radical changes in his medium. In this respect, it might be said to mark the beginning of ‘auteur’ cinema – i.e. cinema dominated by the vision of its director (author), as opposed to cinema conforming to traditional expectations and commercial goals.

Psycho has been endlessly discussed and analysed since it terrified its first audiences, but Hitchcock himself was profoundly reluctant to discuss his work seriously, adopting a public persona halfway between a clown and a bank manager, while in the studio, stories and rumours abounded concerning his autocracy, obsessionality, voyeurism and misogyny. These are all important themes in Psycho, and our performance will be exploring them in different ways and from different vantage-points.

The Cherry Orchard

Friday October 13 – Sunday October 15, 2006
Venue: The House
Time: 8pm

One of the most famous and acclaimed plays of all time; The Cherry Orchard was Anton Chekhov’s last play, first performed shortly before his death in 1904. It describes the collapse of an aristocratic family, whose way of life is destroyed by forces they don’t understand and are powerless to resist – forces of social and political change that would soon sweep away the old order in its entirety. The combination of Chekhov, the playwright, and Stanislavski, the pioneering director and creator of the first truly modern school of acting, who directed the original production, make it a play of unique importance in the history of theatre. It was his encounter with Chekhov’s plays that gave Stanislavski the conviction that a new type of actor was called for and this eventually gave birth to the famous ‘System’.

in situ: applies its unique approach to Chekhov ‘s masterpiece. The Cherry Orchard Projecttakes place in The House, the action happening simultaneously in different rooms, corridors, landings and other spaces. The idea is that the audience moves around The House following whatever parts of the action they wish and piecing together their own unique experience of the work out of these encounters. The different acts take place in different spaces: on an impossibly cramped sofa, on a bed, on the stairs. Meanwhile, elsewhere, the characters are chatting, playing cards, drinking, singing, re-enacting the turning points in their lives and weeping over lost happiness.

The Canterbury Tales

Tuesday 11 – Saturday 15 July, 2006
Venue: The Leper Chapel, Barnwell Junction, Newmarket Road, Cambridge
Time: 8pm

An ambitious new site-specific production by in situ:

Taking place in and around the remarkable Leper Chapel in Cambridge and based on Chaucer’s magnificent cycle of stories, The Canterbury Tales explores many of the techniques highlighted in the individual workshops: including storytelling skills and extended voice technique.

The Cherry Orchard

March, 2006
Venue: The House
Time: 8pm

The Cherry Orchard was Chekhov’s last play, first performed by The Moscow Art Theatre, under the direction of Konstantin Stanislavski, in January 1904, a few months before Chekhov’s death. The relationship between the two men was fraught and full of disagreement. Chekhov insisted his play was a comedy, ‘at times even a farce’, and he felt Stanislavski’s staging made it heavy and ponderous. For his part, Stanislavski was beginning to develop the approaches to staging and acting that most practititioners now see as the cornerstones of modern theatre technique. Their relationship was in many ways the prototype of the director/playwright conflict that has resurfaced many times during the 20th Century, a conflict in which the playwright essentially wants a space in which his or her play can be heard without interference, whereas the director sees the play as being one element in an ensemble of means by which a live theatre event can be created, an event which is not reducible to the script.

The Cherry Orchard Project, taking place in a house, rather than a theatre, and using material from within and without Chekhov’s text, would of course have been unimaginable for either of them and has been the result of numerous developments in avant garde theatre during the hundred years since The Cherry Orchard’s first performance.

However, it’s worth bearing in mind Stanislavski’s remark about another of Chekhov’s plays, Three Sisters. He remarked that to see Three Sisters on stage should be like visiting the Prozorov’s house. It may be that modern avant-garde approaches to theatre are able to get much closer to an ideal that Stanislavski, confined, as everybody was then, to large auditoria and proscenium arch stages, could only dream of.

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